Faint comet in Lacerta
Optics: 8" f/4 Newtonian Astrograph w/Baader MPCC Coma Corrector
Platform: Astrophysics AP1200
Camera: Hutech Modified Canon XTi @ ISO800
Exposure: 12 x 5m = 1 hour
Location: Payson, Arizona
Elevation: 5150 ft.
Sky: Seeing 7/10, Transparency 9/10
Outside Temperature: 75F
Processing Tools: Photoshop CS2, Images Plus 3.82
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across the fall sky, this periodic comet will be making its closest
approach to the Earth in centuries in a few months at a minimum
distance of 11 million miles. It is currently 32 million miles
from earth and closing fast. Even now, this very faint 11.5 magnitude
object shows photographic green coloration promising more dramatic
gas activity in the months to come! Visually, this object was
just barely visible in the 8" at 50x, and no hint of the
short fan like tail near the core you see here was evident.
The field of this
image is 2.5 degrees, or 5 full moons wide. The comet is already
gaining considerable size and should put on a fine show when
it swings over to Cassiopeia and onto Auriga in the coming months.
For this image, the one hour exposure was stacked by summing
such that the nucleus of the comet was in register to track the
motion of the comet against the background stars. The stars appear
as streaks whizzing by, and this will only accelerate greatly
as the comet gets closer. The comet will then be a blur in a
short 5 minute sub frame! Ah, the challenges of a comet imager...